|AYUTTHAYA HISTORICAL PARK
|Text by Tricky Vandenberg - February 2011
|According to the Luang Prasoet chronicle, Ayutthaya was established by King Ramathibodi I on Friday 4 March 1351 in the vicinity of an ancient
settlement dating since the Dvaravati era (6th to the 11th centuries). The city state expanded its boundaries over the centuries, absorbing the Tai
Kingdom of Sukhothai in the 15th century. A magnificent city in the 17th and 18th century with a cosmopolitan character, it became one of the most
important trading hubs of Asia. Ayutthaya was for 417 years the capital of the Siamese. The city fell on Tuesday 7 April 1767 at nightfall to the
Burmese, never to arise of its ashes.
Sacked and plundered by the Burmese, dismantled in the reigns of King Rama I and Rama III to reconstruct the Siamese capital at Bangkok, the old
lady had suffered severely. When last century, the demand for antiques increased and the amulet markets mushroomed, Ayutthaya's ruins were
plundered one more time. During the sixties, witnesses recount, it was common for locals in the Ayutthaya area to gather the bricks of the ruins.
Trucks from Bangkok came up to collect the bricks at 20 Baht a load. At par with the stolen Vishnu Anantasayin lintel of the Phanom Rung sanctuary
that resurged in America after the War in Vietnam, rumors persist that statues and part of statues disappeared from the ruins in Ayutthaya during the
same period. Nothing remains of the splendor that was once Ayutthaya, but a few (mainly reconstructed) ruins.
|Ayutthaya. Past, Present and Future of a Heritage City.
Final Report (by Roberto B. Gozzoli - Siam University, Hotel and Tourism Studies Department)
|The present Ayutthaya district, counted more than 400 temples. Many are gone now. Plundered and burned, reduced until their basic foundations by
brick theft and finally their last remains overbuilt. On the city island there are hardly any brick mounds or not restored ruins left, but they are still
abundant in the areas around the city.
A first small scale restoration in the northeast corner of the old city occurred in the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV) in the period between 1854
and 1868. King Mongkut (r. 1851 - 1868) ordered the reconstruction of the Chan Boworn Palace with the purpose to make it his residence when
visiting Ayutthaya. He also commanded the repair of Wat Senat and Wat Khamin, two temples in the immediate vicinity of the Front Palace.
Some sources speak about a second restoration in the period 1868 - 1910, but in fact more damage was done. In 1895, the Governor of Ayutthaya
had the city walls of Ayutthaya pulled down and constructed on their foundations, the present U-Thong Road, a ring road around the city.
The same year, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) decided to re-use the Front Palace (in disuse after the death of Rama IV) and gave order to turn it
into a Governmental office. The next governor of Ayutthaya, Phraya Boran Rachathanin, was a historian and started to keep an antique collection at
the Front Palace. In 1904, King Rama V ordered the antiques to be exhibited at the Chaturamuk pavilion and as such the “Ayutthaya Museum” was
officially born. In 1908, King Rama V declared the entire Ayutthaya City Island a protected zone. Private occupancy became prohibited. Too bad it
was not for long.
It will take until 1935, that the Fine Arts Department (here after abbreviated FAD) registered the Historic City of Ayutthaya covering an area of 2.8
Sq. Km. as an ancient monument. It took another 20 years and some serious plundering before the FAD started in 1956 excavation and repair
works on the most important monuments. The area was classified as a Historical Park in 1967.
|(Wat Phra Ram, funerary site of King Ramathibodhi I
also called King U-Thong)
|In 1969 FAD began with serious renovations of the ruins. The Government of Thailand gave green light to the department in 1977, to conserve and
manage the Historic City of Ayutthaya and to set up the Ayutthaya Historical Park Plan with the aim to restore the monuments within the inscribed
On 13 December 1991 the Historic City of Ayutthaya was awarded the status of World Heritage Site by UNESCO at Carthage, Tunisia. To be
included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. The Historic City
of Ayutthaya was chosen on basis of criteria 3: "To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is
living or which has disappeared." The United Nations body encouraged the authorities of Thailand to accelerate the implementation of management
plans for the sanctuary.
In 1993, the "Master Plan on the Conservation and Development of the Historic City of Ayutthaya" - an improved plan to cover a broader area and
aspects - was devised to provide a framework and guidelines. It comprised of 5 major plans as follows: (a) Archaeology, History, and Ancient
Monuments; (b) Development and Improvement of Infrastructure; (c) Improvement of Environment and Landscape; (d) Development and
Improvement of Community and (e) Relocation and Improvement of Land Use.
Various national laws protect the Historic City of Ayutthaya such as: The Land Code of 1954; The Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects
of Art and National Museums of 1961; The Racha Phasadu Land Act of 1975; The Urban Planning Act or also called the City Planning Act of
1975, which reinforces the legal framework for the protection of the property through zoning regulations; The Building Control Act of 1979;
Regulations of the Fine Arts Department Concerning the Conservation of Monuments of 1985 and the Amended Act on Ancient Monuments,
Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums of 1992. Many national laws, but unfortunately very far from implemented.
|(Wat Maha That)
UNESCO's World Heritage list. Every year newspapers post upcoming changes; but alas nothing much - at least visually - seems to happen in situ.
Robert Gozzoli sticks his thumb in the wound in his "Preliminary Report to NRCT on the Ayutthaya Historical Park" written in 2010. I have to
concur. There are of course the budgetary constraints, but a bit wind of change blowing through the Historical Park, would do it no harm.
A link to all the ruins and temples within the Ayutthaya Historical Park you find here.
 WH Committee Report of 15th Session, Cartage (1991).
 UNESCO Site 576 - Advisory Body Recommendation (1991).
 UNESCO Site 576 - Reporting (2003).
 Development laws and regulations to support conservation and development of Ayutthaya historic city - Prateep Phengtako (1998).
 A critical analysis of heritage interpretation and the development of a guidebook for non-Thai cultural tourists at Ayutthaya world heritage site -
Aphivan Saipradist (2005).
|(Wat Racha Burana)